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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5773

Ein Ayah: A Nation that Can Simultaneously Be Insular and All-Inclusive

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:263)

Gemara: [The gemara tells of the aftermath of David’s mistake of not having the people give an atonement during their counting, which came from his not realizing the difference between free choice for the individual and for the masses. This resulted in a plague against the people. The pasuk brought here introduces the end of the plague, which resulted in the discovery of the place of the Beit Hamikdash.]  

“As the destruction was occurring, Hashem saw and decided to halt the bad (the plague)” (Divrei Hayamim I:21:15). What did He see? Rav said: He saw Yaakov Avinu, as the pasuk says: “Yaakov said when he saw them” (Bereishit 32:3). Shmuel said: He saw the ashes of Yitzchak, as the pasuk says: “Hashem will see for him a sheep” (Bereishit 22:8).   

 

Ein Ayah: The deterioration of the group that comes from the spread of bad ideas cannot fully take hold. It is an important basic characteristic of the Jewish Nation that the ability for them to join together and succeed is a wonderful inheritance that stems back most clearly to Yaakov Avinu. He was the one who first started to prepare a separate nation, by building a house of tribes of the nation that would serve as a testimony. Yaakov said: “This stone that I placed as a monument will be a House of Hashem” (Bereishit 28:22). This is different from Avraham who called that place a mountain and Yitzchak who called it a field (Pesachim 88a), as only that which Yaakov described has walls. This house illustrates the uniqueness of the spirituality of the Jewish Nation in the Land in which Hashem has a particular interest.

Interestingly, specifically about Yaakov we are told that he will have a lot without boundaries. This is because uniqueness that comes from a complete realization is not an over-focusing on individuality even on a national level, but a focusing on influencing and connecting in the best possible way. Therefore, many nations will say, “Let us go up to the mountain of Hashem and the house of the G-d of Yaakov” (Yeshaya 2:3). This is an example of the connecting of two extremes. An individual insulates himself within his own boundaries to create a powerful center for the collective.

For the same reason Yaakov chanced upon the angels of Eretz Yisrael and the angels of outside Eretz Yisrael in one place [which is that which Yaakov saw in the pasuk that the aforementioned gemara cites]. The special place in which Yaakov saw the two sets of angels was fit to receive a name that would make it remembered for all ages – Machanayim (meaning, encampments). Eretz Yisrael, which is the world’s spiritual center, is able to give its power to the areas abroad, and someday the Land will expand and spiritually encompass the whole world.

A nation that has as an inheritance such a profound philosophy can never fully lose the philosophical path that connects these two ideas, of the individual and the collective that is made up by the individuals therein. Therefore, this nation is able to quickly recuperate from the ills of not understanding the need of the individual to preserve righteousness without tolerance for evil. The binding together of the masses will recover and realize how special it is that each individual has complete free choice and is expected to choose life. This choice fits into the promise of a covenant on a collective basis. This covenant is an eternal idea like the existence of the heavens and the earth, which stand before Hashem, as will the offspring of Bnei Yisrael and their name (based on Yeshaya 66:22).

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